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MacIntyre: The gulag comes to you

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During a recent show a viewer asked me, “When do you think we will see the open political oppression of conservatives?” My reply was simple: “That future has already arrived.”

When people imagine a total state, they usually envision a dystopian science fiction novel full of jackbooted thugs and gulags full of thought criminals. This is understandable. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia are the examples that dominate our minds when it comes to the violent enforcement of ideological conformity. But our modern total state is not ruled by leaders who are either capable of or competent in the large-scale use of force. Unfortunately for the modern dissident, they do not need to be. Technology has proven a far more effective tool of control. In the totalitarian states of old, the government had to put its enemies on a train to the gulag, but in the modern total state, the gulag comes to you.

The overwhelming use of violence is undoubtedly effective at silencing political dissidents, but it also comes with serious drawbacks. First a regime needs a group of men willing and able to unleash brutal acts upon their neighbors, and even if leaders can compel men to commit such horrific acts, a regime has to worry about the cost. People tend to notice violent action and register it as an immediate existential threat. A population is far more likely to take action and defend itself against horrific violence than against the slow and steady technological suppression wielded by our current elites.

A ruling class also has to be concerned about the optics of widespread violence. It can be difficult to sell particularly heinous acts to the more moderate segments of your population. Soft power does a much better job of suppressing opposition without triggering the fight-or-flight reflex in your average citizen.

The ability of the regime to punish conservatives begins with the education of their children. The children of conservatives must report to government-operated learning facilities unless their parents have the affluence and awareness necessary to provide alternative education. In those facilities, the children of conservatives are taught that their parents are backwards and evil and likely seeking to oppress them.

If these students are Christian, they are taught that their faith is ignorant and responsible for unspeakable atrocities. If they are white, they are taught that their skin color makes them irredeemably racist, automatically guilty of a grave sin for which they can never atone. Most children are taught that the morals of their parents are silly or hateful, especially the ones around restricting sexuality, and that they may need to use the state to shield their newfound sexual identity from the ignorant bigotry of their family. And all children are taught that the historical American nation is basically one extended war crime that moves from atrocity to atrocity and must be fundamentally transformed if it is to be cleansed of its inequity.

The next stage of political oppression occurs as those students consider moving on to a university. The college system has become the de facto credentialing mechanism that almost all high- and mid-status jobs use to sort their applicants. These progressive seminaries actively discriminate against conservatives by forcing applicants to write admissions essays that essentially serve as statements of faith requiring students to find creative ways of expressing their total devotion to woke ideology.

Even if a conservative student does make it past this process, all he has won is the honor of going deeply into debt to pay professors who hate him to preach fiery sermons denouncing every value he holds dear. Any attempt to stand up and offer an alternative viewpoint puts his $100,000-plus investment at risk, possibly destroying his career before he even obtains the degree in question.

If a graduate manages to escape with his conservatism intact, he must then face the gauntlet of woke capital. Corporations often screen applicants by combing their social media for “offensive” conservative views, so if a graduate has ever shared or liked the wrong meme, he can be immediately disqualified. Publicly announcing support for the wrong political candidate or opposition to the current LGBTQ+ cultural jihad is essentially a career death sentence.

If a conservative does get hired by a large corporation, he will endure endless hours of political indoctrination. Companies now spend tens of millions of dollars on programs designed to attack those who are straight, white, Christian, or male. The conservative will also need to be on constant guard, because any expression of his values or norms will be construed as a hostile work environment. Corporations are required by law to staff their human resources departments with woke political commissars who vigilantly observe their charges, ready to purge any individual suspected of wrongthink.

The beauty of the system is that constant indoctrination and well-crafted incentives are just as, if not more, effective than direct violence on behalf of the regime. The careful nudge of technocratic management constantly pushes the population left and punishes those who stubbornly hold to conservative values, but no one is exactly sure who to blame. The distributed organization of our ruling elite makes it difficult to hold any specific person accountable, and the gradual nature of their social engineering makes it difficult for popular resistance to coalesce. No one gets loaded onto a train, no one is held at gunpoint, but the population still understands that resistance will cause people to be labeled low-class and make access to the good life incredibly difficult.

Even if conservatives manage to escape the confines of the system, the modern total state has more aggressive means of delivering punishment. Conservatives can be demonetized or banned from social media platforms for having the wrong opinions. Companies or individuals with the wrong opinions can be denied by payment processors, making it impossible to do business.

Increasingly, banks are actively purging conservative figures from their institutions, making it impossible for dissidents to buy or sell anything in our increasingly connected technology-driven economy. Our ruling elite are practically salivating at the prospect of a central bank digital currency, which would give them total control over the economic transactions of anyone foolish enough to oppose the reigning ideology. Gulags are a messy business. It is much easier to simply leave your enemy homeless, jobless, and broke with no hope of ever supporting a family.

While the tools of soft power available to the total state are vast, should they prove insufficient, the regime has formal law enforcement solutions on hand. The FBI now regularly persecutes pro-life protesters, surveils traditional Catholic masses, and threatens parents who do not want their children to be groomed by the school system. Family courts are now being weaponized against parents who disagree with transitionist ideology, stripping the dissidents of custody rights should they refuse to mutilate their children. Self-defense has become functionally illegal in cities like New York, where stopping a crazed homeless man who is threatening your subway train could end in your own incarceration.

Free speech has become a punch line, as men like Douglas Mackey have learned. He now faces 10 years in jail for making a meme that insulted Hillary Clinton. The general criminalization of political opposition seems to be accelerating at a breakneck pace. Donald Trump, former president and likely electoral opponent of the sitting executive, Joe Biden, has been charged with any and everything the banana republic can throw at him.

This is why terms like "political correctness" or "cancel culture" were always stupid. These actions were always the political persecution of conservatives, and denying that in the face of our current situation is exceptionally foolish. If you are waiting for the gulags to appear before you start to worry, I have bad news: The digital gulag is already here.

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